Biggin Hill 21 July 2016


Some scenes from the events at Biggin Hill on 21 July at St Georges Chapel, the Sptifire Heritage Hangar, the London Battle of Britain Memorial and the RAF Club, London.

Biggin Hill arrival

Biggin Hill arrival of the Czech Air Force CASA C-295

Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik, Chief of the Czech Air Force, leads the party from the aircraft.

Gen Emil Boček.

Cardinal Dominik Ducha, Archbishop of Prague, and of a Czech RAF airman.

With Martin Ježek – Omnimedia’s PR Manager and media co-ordinator.

Geeting by Will Curtis, Managing Director at Biggin Hill Airport.

At St George’s Chapel

The four Czechoslovak pilots commemorated at St Georges Chapel.

Cardinal Duka, Jiří Stanislav, of
Křížovníci s červeným srdcem Cyriaci Mezinárodní nevládní organizace and Laurie Chester of St George’s Chapel with the replica Infant Jesus of Prague statue.

Cardinal Duka leads the bi-lingual mass and blessing of the Infant Jesus of Prague statue with Paul Wright, Archdean of Beckenham and Bromley.

So finally, following our article on St George’s Chapel, there is now a Czech presence in the Chapel

Photo shoot by the Spitfire gate-guard.

Presentation of Remembrance painting to St Georges Chapel by artist Jiří Soukup.

At Spitfire Heritage Hangar, Biggin Hill.

Where ninety-four year old Gen Emil Boček will realise his dream of flying a Spitfire.

Two seater Spitfire MJ627, piloted by Don Sigournay, which will be used for the flight.

Being escorted to the Spitfire by Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik.

Final photo’s before take-off

About to depart

Taxing-off

Biggin-Hill take-off

Flypast alongside Harvard camera aircraft.

With Harvard camera airctaft.

Just landed.

Hmm….now to face the media again!

Joe Vochyan, Gen Emil Boček and Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik remember 310 (Czechoslovak) Sqn.

With the BBC.

yet and another interview with Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik observing.

With his pilot Don Sigournay.

And also while at the Heritage Hangar.

Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik has the opportunity to sit in a Spitfire.

..so how do I start her up asks Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik.

H.E. Libor Sečka, Czech Ambassador to London, Jiří Soukup and Jiří Svatos, Czech Defence Attaché, London having been presented with pictures of the ‘Alsterufer‘ sinking by artist Jiří Soukup.

And a birthday surprise for Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik.

Hurricane coin from new coin set by Česká mincovna depicting aircraft flown by the Czechoslovak RAF squadrons in WW2.

The Liberator coin.

The Spitfire coin.

The Wellington coin.

At London’s Battle of Britain Memorial.

Wreath laying ceremony.

Presentation by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the RAF to Gen Boček

Joe Voychan from the Czech Spitfire Club being interviewed about the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain.

At the RAF Club, London.

Presentation of two paintings by Jiří Soukup to the RAF Club, London.

Group Captain Michael Longstaff, British Defence Attaché to Prage, Jiří Soukup and Brig. Gen. Libor Stefanik, Chief of the Czech Air Force.

At the Polish Airmen’s Memorial, Northwood, 22 July.

Laying a wreath to commemorate the four Czechoslovak pilots who were killed whilst flying with Polish forces in WW2.

Many thanks to Česká mincovna whose sponsorship enabled this trip to the UK to happen.




Posted in Battle of Britain, Ceremony, Events | Leave a comment

Slovak remembrance of the Battle of Britain pilots



Representatives from the Bratislava branch of the General Dr. M.R Štefánik Slovak Aviation Association, attended the National Battle of Britain Memorial, at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent. They laid a wreath to commemorate the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who had flown in that battle.

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Support a Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilot

You can sponsor any of the above Czechoslovak pilots, or any other pilots named on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. A sponsorship form can be downloaded here.

UK tax-payers may also increase the benefit of their donation by using ‘Gift Aid’. A Gift Aid form can be downloaded here.

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Posted in 310 Sqd, 312 Sqd, Battle of Britain | Leave a comment

Plzen remembers the Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilots.


On 13 July, representatives of the Letecký historický klub gen. Jana R. Irvinga Plzeň were at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent for an informal ceremony to remember the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who had fought in that battle.

13. července se zástupci Leteckého historického klubu gen. Jana R. Irvinga Plzeň a Letců Plzeň zastavili u památníku Bitvy o Anglii v Capel-le-Ferne. Při neformálním obřadu vzpomněli na 88 československých pilotů, kteří bojovali v této bitvě.

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Václav Toman, the club’s president, laid a wreath to commemorate those 88 pilots.

Václav Toman, předseda klubu položil věnec k pomníku k uctění 88 pilotů, kteří bojovali v této bitvě.

A toast was made to remember the eight Czechoslovak pilots who were killed in the battle.

Poté všichni připili na vzpomínku na osm českoslobvenských pilotů, kteří padli v boji.

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Support a Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilot

Podporovat československé piloty v Bitvě o Británii

You can sponsor any of the above Czechoslovak pilots, or any other pilots named on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. A sponsorship form can be downloaded here.

Můžete poskytnout sponzorský dar některému z výše uvedených československých pilotů, nebo jinému pilotovi uvedenému na zdi Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial. Sponzorský formulář je možné stáhnout zde.

UK tax-payers may also increase the benefit of their donation by using ‘Gift Aid’. A Gift Aid form can be downloaded here.

Britští daňový poplatníci mohou také zvýšit výhodu svého daru pomocí “dárkové podpory”. Tento formulář je možné stáhnout zde.

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Posted in 310 Sqd, 312 Sqd, Battle of Britain, Ceremony | 1 Comment

Recovery of Karel Pavlik´s Spitfire


De berging van Karel Pavlik’s Spitfire in 1997

Recovery of Karel Pavlik´s Spitfire in 1997
– near Dranouter in West Flanders, Belgium

Exkavace Spitfiru Karla Pavlíka v r. 1997
– nedaleko vesnice Dranouter v západních Flandrách v Belgii

On 5 May 1942, six RAF Boston, twin-engined bombers from 226 Sqn were on a mission to bomb the electric power station at Lille-Sequedin in Northern France. They were escorted by 36 Spitfires from 64 Sqn, 122 Sqn and 313 (Czechoslovak) Sqn in an operation named Circus 157.

5. května 1942, šest Bostonů RAF, dvoumotorových bombardérů 226.perutě, bylo vysláno na misi bombardovat elektrárnu v Lille-Sequedin v severní Francii. Byli doprovázeni 36 Spitfiry z 64., 122. a 313 (Československé) perutě při operaci pojmenované Circus 157.

At around 15:30 the formation was intercepted by 21 Fw-190 fighters from Jagdgeschwader 26 near Kemmelberg, Belgium In the dog-fight that followed the RAF fared badly with five Spitfires being shot down, with four of the pilots being killed, whilst the 5th, S/Ldr František Fajtl managed to land safely his damaged Spitfire, evade capture, escape across continental Europe and eventually reach the UK some three months later.

Kolem 15:30 odpoledne byla jejich formace narušena poblíž Kemmelbergu v Belgii 21 stíhačkami FW-190 Jagdgeschwader 26. V leteckém souboji, který následoval, RAF utrpěla těžké ztáty s pěti sestřelenými Spitfiry a čtyřmi piloty zabitými v boji, zatímco pátému – S/Ldr Františku Fajtlovi – se podařilo úspěšně přistát s poškozeným Spitfirem, vyhnout se zajetí a po tříměsíční únikové anabázi kontinentální Evropou dostat se zpět do Velké Británie.

One of the four who was killed was Sgt Karel Pavlík, a 23 year old Czechoslovak pilot from Plzeň who flew with 313 Sqn. His Spitfire Mk VB, BM261, being shot down at 15:45 Kemmel hill, near Dranouter, Belgium, having become the 70th ‘kill’ of Hauptmann Josef “Pips” Priller. Pavlik’s Spitfire, hit the ground at about 400 mph, the velocity causing it to become embedded some 8 metres deep in the Belgian blue sea-clay.

Jeden ze čtyř zabitých byl SGT Karel Pavlík, třiadvacetiletý československý pilot z Plzně, který létal u 313. perutě. Jeho Spitfire Mk VB, BM261 byl sestřelen v 15:45 na úpatí vrchu Kemmel poblíž vesnice Dranouter v Belgii a byl 70. “úspěchem” Hauptmanna Josefa “Pips” Prillera. Pavlíkův Spitfire narazil do země rychlostí asi 650 km/hod, a tato rychlost způsobila, že se zabořil téměř 8m hluboko do belgického modrého mořského jílu.

Pavlik´s remains were recovered by the Missing Research and Inquiry Service in July 1946 and interred at the CWGC section at Ypres Town Extension cemetery on 20th August 1946.

Pavlíkovy ostatky byly vyzvednuty ze země až v červenci 1946 a pohřben byl 20. srpna 1946 na vojenském hřbitově CWGC Ypres Town Extension.

In May 1997, the remains of the Spitfire were recovered, the excavation story by Dirk Decuypere below.

V květnu 1997 byla zorganizována akce na vyzvednutí zbytků Spitfiru​; příběh o exkavaci panem Dirkem Decuypere následuje​.

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Eind mei 1997 vroeg Vlamertingenaar Wim Huyghe me om samen naar het wrak van Karel Pavlíks Spitfire in Dranouter op te graven. We spraken verschillende andere mensen aan om mee te helpen en zo werd de West-Vlaamse Groep-Huyghe-Decuypere opgericht. Intussen ging ik op bezoek bij de pachter van de weide waarin het vliegtuigwrak rustte: de weide van landbouwer Guido Rouseu. Ik was er bijzonder hartelijk ontvangen geworden en kreeg zijn medewerking.

At the end of May 1997, Wim Huyghe from Vlamertinge (near Ypres, Belgium) asked me to help him dig for the wreckage of Karel Pavlík´s Spitfire near Dranouter. We contacted various other people to help us with it, and that is how the West Flemish Group-Huyghe-Decuypere was founded. In the meantime, I visited the tenant of the meadow in which the wreck of the airplane rested: the meadow of farmer Guido Rouseu. I was very cordially welcome there and received his cooperation.

Na konci května 1997 se mě Wim Huyghe z obce Vlamertinge (blízko Ypres v Belgii)zeptal, jestli bych s ním nešel kopat, abychom společně našli vrak Spitfiru Karla Pavlíka poblíž Dranouteru. Obrátili jsme se na několik lidí s prosbou o pomoc, a tak byla založena západoflanderská Skupina Huyghe-Decuypere. Mezitím jsem navštívil pronájemce louky, ve které se nacházel vrak letadla: louky sedláka Guido Rouseua. Byl jsem tam velmi srdečně přivítán a dostalo se mi od něj spolupráce.

Op zaterdag 21 juni 1997 waren Wim Huyghe, Erwin Vandenbroucke en ikzelf ter plaatse met Guido Rouseu en Jerome Tancré, die als ooggetuigen optraden. Ze wezen – weliswaar op korte afstand van elkaar gelegen – verschillende precieze punten aan waar de Spitfire zou zijn ingeslagen. Uiteindelijk gaf de door Guido Rouseu aangeduide plek de eerste aluminium wrakstukjes van de Spitfire prijs: een halve meter onder de grond.

Saturday 21st June 1997, Wim Huyghe, Erwin Vandenbroucke and myself were at the location with Guido Rouseu and Jerome Tancré, who were eyewitnesses of the Spitfire crash on 5th May 1942. They pointed out – as a matter of fact within short distance from each other – various exact spots where the Spitfire supposedly hit the ground. Finally, the place indicated by Guido Rouseu yielded the first small aluminum wreckage bits of the Spitfire: half a metre underground.

V sobotu 21. června 1997 Wim Huyghe, Erwin Vandenbroucke a já sám jsme se nacházeli na místě spolu s Guidem Rouseuem a Jeromem Tancré, kteří byli očitými svědky (zřícení Spitfiru 5.května 1942. Označili – fakticky nedaleko od sebe – několik přesných míst, kde spitfire údajně narazil do země. Nakonec jedno z míst, označené Guido Rouseuem, vydalo první malé hliníkové kousky vraku Spitfiru: půl metru pod zemí.

Op de regenachtige zondag van 29 juni 1997 – om halfacht in de morgen – stonden we er opnieuw met de kers verse bergingsploeg Huyghe-Decuypere. We hadden ook BAHA (Belgian Aviation History Association) uitgenodigd om mee te werken aan de opgraving.

On a rainy Sunday of 29th June 1997 – at seven thirty in the morning – we stood there again with the brand new salvage team of Huyghe-Decuypere. We also invited BAHA (Belgian Aviation History Association) to work with us during the excavation.

V deštivé neděli 29. června 1997 v 7:30 ráno jsme tam stáli znovu – se zbrusu novým záchranným týmem Huyghe-Decuypere. Pozvali jsme také BAHA (Belgická asociace historického letectví), aby s námi pracovali na exkavaci.

In de eerste laag van twee meter werden nu en dan enkele wrakstukken gevonden, maar daarna bleef het wachten, en bleef de zo vertrouwde geur van brandstof aanvankelijk totaal uit de lucht. Toen de zwarte inslagvlek werd blootgelegd en onze neuzen dan toch de gebruikelijke brandstofgeur detecteerden, kregen we weer hoop.

We found solitary pieces of wreckage here and there in the first layer of two metres, but afterwards it was the waiting, and to begin with the so familiar scent of the fuel was completely absent in the air. When the black impact point was uncovered and our noses finally detected the usual smell of fuel, we were hopeful once again.

V první dvoumetrové vrstvě jsme našli tu a tam jednotlivé kusy vraku, ale potom následovalo čekání, protože tak důvěrně známá vůně paliva nebyla zpočátku ve vzduchu vůbec cítit. Když bylo odkryto černé místo nárazu a naše nosy konečně vystopovaly obvyklou vůni paliva, nabyli jsme opět naděje.

Maar ook in de volgende dubbele meter werd er quasi niks gevonden. De Dranouternaars hadden steeds benadrukt dat de piloot wel acht meter diep lag, dus zeker ook de motor. Er kon in elk geval nu al besloten worden dat én de Duitsers én de Britse bergingsploeg quasi alles wat ze boven en rond de piloot vonden, hadden meegenomen. Mogelijks wilden ze zoveel mogelijk materiaal voor de identificatie van de nog onbekende piloot recupereren.

But there was almost nothing found in the following two metres, either. The inhabitants of Dranouter had always stressed, that the pilot had layed eight metres deep, therefore surely the engine as well. One way or another, it could be concluded that both the German and the British salvage teams had taken with them almost everything they found above and around the pilot. It is possible they wanted to recover as much material as possible for the identification of the, as yet, unknown pilot.

Ale v dalších dvou metrech nebylo také nalezeno skoro nic. Obyvatelé Dranouteru vždycky zdůrazňovali, že pilot se nacházel určitě osm metrů pod povrchem země, tudíž motor jistě také. Tak či tak, jak německé, tak britské exkavační týmy s sebou vzaly téměř všechno, co nalezly nad a kolem pilota. Je možné, že chtěly získat co nejvíce materiálu, aby mohli identifikovat zatím neznámého pilota.

We waren weer al enkele plaklagen klei dieper gevorderd toen de kraanbak plots tegen de eerste verwrongen aluminium stukken van de rompsectie kraakte: van dan af kwam het ene stuk na het andere boven en werd er geploeterd en gewroeteld in de kleverige kleimassa. Op het zeildoek werden naast bijzonder veel aluminium stukken onder meer volgende onderdelen opengelegd: het rugleer van Pavlíks zetel, pantserplaatfragmenten, drie zuurstofflessen, delen van het flightpanel, een voetstuur, de uit elkaar geslagen radio, een stuk van de cockpitdeur en van het onderstel van de pilootstoel…. Het best bewaard was het instrument voor de remdrukmeter, evenals het onderste deel van de gunsight (vizier).

Reflector vizier.
Reflector gun sight.
Část zaměřovače.

We proceeded deeper, through several further slices of clay layers, when the digger bucket suddenly cracked against the first twisted aluminum pieces of the body section: from then on one piece after another surfaced and we were rooting and toiling in the sticky clay mass. On the sail-canvas were placed many aluminium artefacts amongst them the following parts: the leather of the back support of Pavlík´s seat, fragments of armoured plate, three oxygen bottles, parts of the flight panel, a footpedal, radio smashed to pieces, a piece of the cockpit door and a piece of the bottom part of the pilot´s seat…The instrument measuring the brake pressure was preserved the best, as well as the bottom part of the gunsight.

Pokračovali jsme dál a hlouběji několika vrstvami jílu,když lžíce rypadla náhle narazila na první zkroucené hliníkové kusy trupu letadla: od toho okamžiku se vynořoval jeden kus za druhým a my jsme kutali a dolovali v lepkavé mase jílu. Na plachetnicovém plátně přistávalo nesmírné množství hliníkových kusů a také následující součásti, mimo jiné: kůže ze zadní opory Pavlíkovy sedačky, fragmenty pancéřového panelu, tři kyslíkové lahve, části leteckého (řídícího) panelu, pedál, rádio rozdrcené na kousky, kus dveří kokpitu a také kus spodní části pilotovy sedačky…Instrument meřící tlak brzd byl zachován nejlépe, a taktéž spodní část zaměřovače.

Een van de grote problemen tijdens de opgraving was de “vloeibaarheid” van de Belgische blauwe klei. Aan een kant heeft de klei geholpen om de wrak van het vliegtuig te bewaren in een luchtdichte verzegeling, maar in de diepte van 8 meter betekende de vloeibaarheid van de klei ook, dat de uitgegraven put vulde zich zeer snel weer dicht. Daarom moest de team snel werken in de voortdurend veranderende omstandigheden.

Remdrukmeter.
Brake pressure gauge
Ukazatel tlaku v brzdách.

Zuurstofregelaar
Oxygen regulator.
Regulátor kyslíku.

20mm kanon.
20mm cannon.
20 mm kanón.

Aluminium wrakstukken sorteren.
Sorting out aluminium wreckage.
Třídění trosek z hliníku.

A major difficulty encountered during the excavation was the ‘liquidity’ of the Belgium blue clay. Whilst it had helped preserve the aircraft remains giving it an airtight seal, its liquidity, especially at the depth of 8 metres meant that it closed in very quickly to fill any vacant space. Hence a need for the team to work quickly in those rapidly changing conditions.

Největším problémem při exkavaci byla “tekutost” belgického modrého jílu. Na jedné straně jíl pomohl díky své neprodyšnosti uchovat zbytky letounu, na druhé ale jeho “tekutost” speciálně v hloubce 8m způsobila, že se půda velmi rychle uzavírala, aby vyplnila vybagrovaný prostor. Proto musel tým pracovat spěšně v rychle se měnících podmínkách.

Het kroonstuk blijft echter de Rolls Royce-motor, die op zeven meter diepte rustte. En al had de motor uiteraard een flinke dreun gekregen, toch kwam hij relatief compact uit de bodem. De propellernaaf was de laatste die zich aan het daglicht prijsgaf. Slechts één uur en driekwart had de graafactie geduurd: kraanman Patrick Doom kon de put weer dichten. Om twaalf uur lag de weide weer vlak.

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However, the masterpiece was the Rolls-Royce engine, which rested at the depth of seven metres. And even though the engine suffered a severe pounding, it still came out of the ground in a relatively intact state. The propeller hub was the last piece which came to light. The excavation took only one hour and forty five minutes: the crane operator Patrick Doom could fill in the pit again. At 12 o´clock was the meadow level again.

Nicméně parádním kouskem byl motor Rolls-Royce, který spočíval v hloubce 7m. A přestože motor utrpěl značné omlácení, vynořil se ze země v relativně kompaktním stavu. Osa vrtule spatřila denní světlo jako poslední. Exkavace trvala jen jednu a tři čtvrtě hodiny: operátor rypadla Patrick Doom mohl jámu znovu naplnit. V poledne byla louka opět upravená.

Alles werd op twee opleggers geladen en naar kolenhandelaar Vanacker in Vlamertinge gebracht, die zo vriendelijk was zijn hogedrukreiniger en voldoende werkruimte ter beschikking te stellen. Nog de hele verdere zondag en ook nog de hele daaropvolgende maandag hebben we met twee man alle stukken een eerste grondige reinigingsbeurt gegeven. Hierbij hield Wim Huyghe zich quasi louter bezig met de motor en de super¬charger, die er zondagavond al behoorlijk ‘cleaner’ uitzagen. Op één van de identificatieplaatjes werd nu onder andere duidelijk leesbaar dat het toestel uit de Castle Bromwich A/C Factory rolde als het 2144e van het type Merlin 45 voor Spitfire Vb.

Everything was loaded on two trailers and taken to Vanacker, the coal merchant in Vlamertinge, who very kindly provided his high pressure cleaner and enough workspace placed at our disposal. Yet another whole Sunday and even the following Monday the two of us cleaned thoroughly all the pieces for the first time. Wim Huyghe was busy almost exlusively with the engine and the supercharger, which looked considerably cleaner by Sunday evening. On one of the small identification plates, it was now clearly legible – amongst other – that the machine rolled off the Castle Bromwich A/C Factory as 2144th of the type Merlin 45 for Spitfire Vb.

Vše bylo naloženo na dva traktorové závěsy a odvezeno k obchodníku s uhlím, panu Vanackerovi ve Vlamertinge,který nám také velmi laskavě propůjčil vysokotlakou čističku a dostatek pracovního místa. Další celou neděli a dokonce následující pondělí jsme my dva poprvé důkladně čistili všechny kusy. Wim Huyghe se zabýval výlučně motorem a turbodmychadlem, které vypadaly podstatně čistější v neděli večer. Na jednom z malých identifikačních štítků jsme teď mohli jasně přečíst, kromě jiného,že motor vyjel z továrny na letadla v Castle Bromwich jako 2144. typu Merlin pro Spitfire Vb.

De Merlin motor werd keurig gerestaureerd.
The Merlin engine has been faithfully restored.
Motor Merlin byl věrně restaurován.

De Merlin motor werd keurig gerestaureerd.
The Merlin engine has been faithfully restored.
Motor Merlin byl věrně restaurován.

Toont goed de schade die de motor incasseerde bij impact.
Shows the devastation that occurred to the engine on impact.
Poškození motoru vzniklé nárazem.

In de daaropvolgende weken is Wim de motor blijven schoonmaken bij hem thuis.

In the following weeks, Wim continued to clean the engine at his place.

V následujících týdnech Wim pokračoval v čištění motoru u sebe doma.

In mei 2011 schonk Dirk Decuypere op de crash site in Dranouter enkele stukjes van de Spitfire aan de zus en dochter van Karel Pavlik.

In ​May ​2011, at the Dranouter ​crash site, Dirk Decuypere presented​ the sister and daughter ​of ​Karel Pavlik with artefacts from the Spitfire.

​V květnu 2011 Dirk Decuypere​ předal sestře a dceru Karla Pavlíka artefakty z jeho Spitfiru.

© Dirk Decuypere

(Translated from Dutch by M. Kolarikova 2014)
(Z holandštiny přeložila M. Kolaříková 2014)

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Posted in 313 Sqd, Aircraft, Information | Leave a comment

2016 Battle of Britain Memorial Ceremony – Capel le Ferne


The 76th Anniversary to commemorate the Battle of Britain was held on 3 July 2016 at the National Battle of Britain Memorial, at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent.

It was a well attended ceremony in sunny conditions. Guests included Viscount De L’Isle MBE; Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford KCB CBE ADC RAF, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon GCB CBE; Chairman of the Battle Of Britain Memorial Trust, Battle of Britain pilots W/Cdr Paul Farnes, , S/Ldr Geoff Wellum, relatives of some of ‘The Few’ , local dignitaries, invited guests, representatives of the Polish Airmen’s Association, Polish Airmen’s Memorial Association, Air Training Corp squadrons from around Kent and South-East London and a large number of veteran servicemen and women and well wishers

The ceremony commenced at 13:15 with the Central Band of the RAF leading into the parade area. Numerous Association Standards were carried by representatives of the veteran ex-Service Associations in the South East, the Kent Wing Air Training Corps, and also the Polish Air Force replica standard.

A Colour Party from the Queen’s Colour Squadron of the RAF Regiment, escorted the RAF Silk Ensign was presented to Guest of Honour Air Chief Marshall Sir Andrew Pulford, who took the Royal Salute, at 13:30.

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon proceeded to inspect the assembled parade of Standard bearers and Air Training Corp cadets. On returning from the inspection, he gave a short speech welcoming all to the ceremony. /span>

Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, in what is his last visit to ceremony before retiring as Chief of the Air Staff, gave a speech outlining the endeavours of that the Battle of Britain pilots had accomplished in that summer of 1940. He highlighted how those achievements had been the foundation for RAF service since then and that 2016 was the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Air Training Corp.

A Service of Commemoration followed, conducted by the Venerable Ray Pentland, CB, Hon Chaplain Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and Battle of Britain Fighter Association, Reverend (Sqn Ldr) Matthew Buchan RAuxAF and the Reverend Brian Williams, Priest of St Radigunds, Capel-le-Ferne.

Wreaths were then layed at the Pilots Memorial by Viscount De L’Isle, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, Air Vice-Marshall The Rt Hon Lord Beaverbrook RAuxAF, local dignitaries, representatives of numerous RAF Associations, the Polish Airmen’s Association and the Polish Airmen’s Memorial Committee, Capel-le-Ferne primary school and Defence Attache’s representing Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, New Zealand, Poland, Slovak Republic and the United States.

The eighty-eight Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilots were remembered by their homeland with wreaths being laid by Col. Jiří Svatos, Czech Defence Attachée, and Col. Milan Gavlas, Slovak Defence Attaché, on behalf of their respective London Embassies.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford took the salute of the march-past as the Standard bearers lead the Air Training Cadets and the Central Band of the RAF from the parade./span>

Relatives of ‘The Few’ then went to the Christopher-Noxley Memorial Wall where Mr Thomas Walker read his grandfather’s poem ‘Our Wall’. Guests then laid their red, white and blue flower tributes by the Memorial Wall. The floral display was further enhanced with by well-wishers who laid their own flower bouquets.

The Ceremony closed at 15:00 with the return of the Spitfire and Hurricane for a flying display.

Col. Milan Gavlas, Air Chief Marshall Sir Andrew Pulford Chief of the Air Staff of the RAF, Col. Jiří Svatos.

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The Battle of Britain, where 2,936 RAF pilots – British, from the Commonwealth and those from occupied Europe – fought during the Summer of 1940 to defend Britain against the onslaught of the Luftwaffe . Since the outbreak of WW2, the Luftwaffe had destroyed the Polish Air Force in September 1939 and when Germany invaded Holland, Belgium and France in May 1940 they continued to dominate the skies over Europe.

The Battle of Britain was a critical battle for Britain and was to become a turning point of the war; for the first time the in the war the Luftwaffe was defeated causing Hitler to cancel ‘Operation Sealion’ the planned invasion of Britain. It was Churchill who said on 20th August 1940: ‘The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’

The victory was described by Sir Winston Churchill as Britain’s “finest hour”.

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Support a Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilot

You can sponsor any of the above Czechoslovak pilots, or any other pilots named on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. A sponsorship form can be downloaded here.

UK tax-payers may also increase the benefit of their donation by using ‘Gift Aid’. A Gift Aid form can be downloaded here.

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Posted in 310 Sqd, 312 Sqd, Ceremony | 2 Comments

Czechoslovak Medals awarded to Czechoslovak airmen in WW2


Some pertinent, details of London issued Czechoslovak gallantry and campaign medals awarded to Czechoslovak airmen during WW2. They were manufactured by Sprink and SOns, London, for the Czechoslovak Government in Exile who were based in London during WW2. Subsequent versions of these medals, issued in Prague post WW2, may differ to the specifications listed in this article, fuller details of each medal regarding and WW2 and post-WW2 usage can be found on wilkepedia or other resources.

Medals listed in descending order.

Medals are worn on the left side of the recipients chest. The most important medal, or senior medal, is worn on the right of the group. If a number of medals are worn they are often overlapped or mounted on a backing piece, this is known as court-mounted. Gallantry medals, awarded for bravery, are given greater importance over campaign medals.

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Gallantry Medals:

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Válečný kříž 1939 [Czechoslovak War Cross 1939]

Obverse





Award Criteria :


Válečný kříž 1939 can be awarded to Czechoslovak citizens in their home country, to the units and members of the Czechoslovak military abroad, as well as units and members of Allied military forces, who participated in WW2 and in which they demonstrated an outstanding and successful act in action or in command, during which they were personally exposed to the endangering their own life, or during which their life was sacrificed.

As of 15 April 1948, the Válečný kříž 1939 could be awarded also to foreigners, military or civilian groups and “symbolically representing groups of deserving persons.”


Reverse

Description :


A bronze cross of equal length with pointed arms, in the centre of arms crossed swords.

On the obverse side, in the centre is the Coat of Arms of Czechoslovak.

On on the reverse are provincial emblems in circles; central is the coat of arms of Bohemia and at the points of each of arms or the cross are the emblems of: Slovakia, top; Moravia, left; Silesia, right and Ruthenia, bottom.

Around the circle with the coat of arms of Bohemia is the year 1939.






Ribbon :

The ribbon consists is approximately 39mm wide showing 21 vertical thin red, white and blue stripes.

The Válečný kříž 1939 issued in Britain between 1940 – 1941
had slightly lighter blue stripes.

Clasp :

The Válečný kříž 1939 is physically awarded only once, for the first award, each subsequent award of the decoration is marked on the recipient´s ribbon by a bronze lime-tree leaf.

History :

The Válečný kříž 1939 was instituted by a Czechoslovak Government in Exile, London, decree of 20 December 1940 and the decree was ratified on 26 January 1946 by the Czechoslovak Minister of the Interior. The statutes of the Order were modified on 18 January 1949.

The Válečný kříž 1939 was instigated in remembrance of the struggle for the liberation of the Czechoslovak Republic from the enemy occupation after 15 March 1939.

The Válečný kříž 1939 was awarded for life. At the same time, the decorated person received a diploma entitling him to wear the Válečný kříž 1939.

In case of death, the Válečný kříž 1939 is left as remembrance to the family or relatives. However, nobody is allowed to wear the Válečný kříž 1939, who was not awarded it. The Válečný kříž 1939 could be conferred by the Czechoslovak, or the Minister of Defence, or the Military Commander if they were authorised to do so by the President.

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Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 [For gallantry against the enemy]

Obverse




Award Criteria :


Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 can be awarded to Czechoslovak citizens in their home country, to the units and members of the Czechoslovak military abroad, as well as units and members of Allied military forces, who participated in WW2 and in which they demonstrated an outstanding and successful act in action or in command, during which they were personally exposed to the endangering their own life, or during which their life was sacrificed.


Description :


Reverse

A bronze medal of 33 mm diameter, with a edge thickness of 2 mm rising to 2.5 mm in its centre.

The obverse has a centrally positioned lions head, facing left, with a vertical sword superimposed over it. At the top of the sword is the Slovak inscription “ZA CHRABROST” [“For Valour”], at the base of the sword is a semi-circle of liden leaves.

On the reverse is embossed “PRAVDA VÍTĚZÍ 1939 ” [“Truth wins 1939”] with a semi-circle of liden leaves in the lower half.












Ribbon :

Ribbon is 39 mm wide, consisting of eleven vertical red, white and blue stripes; the two blue being the widest, the five white the narrowest and the four red being of two different width, the widest being on the outside edges of the ribbon.

Clasp :

The Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 is physically awarded only once, for the first award, each subsequent award of the decoration is marked on the recipient´s ribbon by a bronze liden-tree leaf.

History :

The Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 was instituted by a Czechoslovak Government in Exile, London, decree of 20 December 1940 and the decree was ratified on 26 January 1946 by the Czechoslovak Minister of the Interior. The statutes of the Order were modified on 18 January 1949.

The Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 was instigated in remembrance of the struggle for the liberation of the Czechoslovak Republic from the enemy occupation after 15 March 1939.

The Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 was awarded for life. At the same time, the decorated person received a diploma entitling him to wear the Válečný kříž 1939.

In case of death, the Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 is left as remembrance to the family or relatives. However, nobody is allowed to wear the Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
, who was not awarded it. The Za chrabrost před nepřítelem
 could be conferred by the Czechoslovak, or the Minister of Defence, or the Military Commander if they were authorised to do so by the President.

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Za zásluhy / Medal of Merit

Obverse – Za zásluhy Grade I.


Award Criteria :


Awarded to members of the Czechoslovak military for outstanding contributions to the Czechoslovak military, not necessarily in in combat roles. It could also be awarded to members of the Allied forces, and in special cases also to civilians.

The medal has two grades and can be awarded only once. The first grade; Za zásluhy 1. stupně / Za zásluhy I Grade was usually awarded to aircrew while the second grade; Za zásluhy 2. stupně / Za zásluhy II Grade would usually be awarded to ground staff.






Description :

Obverse – Za zásluhy Grade II.



The London version of this military medal was awarded between 1943 and 1945 and came in two grades; Za zásluhy 1. stupně / Za zásluhy I Grade [silver] and Za zásluhy 2. stupně / Za zásluhy II Grade [bronze]. Both medals have a diameter of 33 mm with a small lip on the edge.


Obverse :

Depicts the three heads of Czechoslovak soldiers, in helmets, facing towards the left hand side of the medal. Above the heads is the inscription ‘ZA ZÁSLUHY’ [‘MERIT], below the heads is ‘Č.S.R.’





Reverse – Za zásluhy Grade I.

Reverse:


Depicts a vertical linden branch with leaves against a background of circle of rays.

The medal is hung from the ribbon by two crossed swords 21 mm x 14 mm, in the same metal as the medal.















Ribbon :

Ribbon is 34 mm wide 38 mm long, is mid-blue in colour with a 8 mm wide white bar 2 mm in from the ribbons outer edge.

The ribbon is the same for both medals but a Grade I award also has a 5 mm diameter silver star.


History :

During the period 1940-41 the Czechoslovak military primarily in combat roles against the Germans was the Czechoslovak RAF airmen. During that period the highest award Czechoslovak military award was the Válečný kříž 1939 and was awarded for deeds of bravery and gallantry against the enemy.

But there was a problem as those who served with distinction, in non-combatant roles – ground-crew, technical staff, administrators, medical staff etc, – there was no medal to recognise their meritorious role.

The Za zásluhy was instigated by the Czechoslovak Government in Exile, London, on 20 April 1943 to accommodate these meritorious non-combatant. It was ratified by the post WW2 Czechoslovak government, Prague, on 5 March 1946. Initially intended for award only to non-combatants for meritorious service, later during the war it was expanded to two grades so that those in combatant roles could also be in receipt of this award.

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Campaign Medals:

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Pamětní medaile československé armády v zahraničí / Memorial Medal of Czechoslovak Foreign Army abroad.

London medal – Obverse

Award Criteria :

The medal was awarded to personnel of the Czechoslovak Army abroad during WW2. It could also be awarded to personnel of the Allied armies, which took part in the liberation struggles on the soil of the Czechoslovak Republic and further on to those, who were serving either in the Czechoslovak Army abroad or in the Czechoslovak Air Force units abroad, and who had served for the period of at least two months.


Description :


There are three versions of this medal; London 1943-1945, Prague 1945 and Prague 1945 -1947.


London 1943-1945 variant :

London medal – Reverse




Obverse :

A light bronze, 36 mm diameter wreath of liden leaves. Central in the wreath is a downward facing sword, its tip meeting with the bottom edge of the wreath, its handle protruding above the top edge of the wreath. In the London 1943-1945 version of this medal, the medal is hung from the top of the sword handle to the ribbon by a small ring which is concealed within the ribbon. By the tip of the sword, in silver metal, is the Czechoslovak lion with the Slovak crest on its chest.

Reverse :

On the reverse side is the embossed inscription, going around the outer rim of the wreath of ‘ČESKOSLOVENSKÁ ARMÁDA V ZAHRANIČÍ’ [Czechoslovak Army Abroad] and at the bottom, ‘1939’ above ‘1945’ embossed on the outer rim of the wreath.


Prague 1945 variant :

Obverse

The tip of the sword handle is thinner with the hanging ring contained within the ribbon.

Reverse :

Same as the London 1943 – 1945 variant.

Obverse – Prague 1945-1947 variant.


Prague 1945 – 1947 variant :


Obverse :


The sword handle has a small ring mounted at its end through which holds the ribbon hanging ring. Hanging ring is protruding below the medal ribbon.



Reverse – Prague 1945 – 1947 variant.

Reverse :

‘ČESKOSLOVENSKÁ ARMÁDA V ZAHRANIČÍ’ is engraved into the medal. At the bottom, also engraved is ‘1939 1945’ now alongside each other.

The ring hanging the medal protrudes below the ribbon.

.








Ribbon :

Ribbon is 37 mm wide, rosy red, black side stripes 4 mm wide and away from the edge of 4 mm.

There are also a variant of this ribbon width with a width of 44 mm, which is brick red in colour with 5 mm wide strips spaced from the edge of 5 mm.

.

Clasp :

Clasp : Abbreviation for : English:
F Francie France
VB Velká Britanie Great Britain
SSSR Svaz Soviětských Socialistických Republik Soviet Union
SV Střední Východ Middle East


Some of the Czechoslovak RAF airmen had originally served in the British Army in the Middle East thus qualifying them for a Střední Východ (Middle East) clasp.

History :

The Pamětní medaile československé armády v zahraničí medal was instigated by a decree of the Czechoslovak Government in Exile, London, dated 15 October 1943, which was completed by a decree dated 21 February 1945. The decree was ratified by the Czechoslovak Government’s decree of 1 March 1946.

The Medal was bestowed by the Minister of the National Defence of Czechoslovakia.

The recipient of the Medal also, at least in the post-war era, by a decree.

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The assistance of the Czech Medals and Orders Society http://www.vyznamenani.net and others who prefer to remain anonymous, is very much appreciated.

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Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Information | Leave a comment

Moonlight Flyer – Jan Gellner




Moonlight Flyer


– The Diary of a WW2 Navigator

by

Pavel Vancata


The unique diary of a Czechoslovakian navigator who served with No. 311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron during the Second World War.

This previously unpublished diary gives a unique insight into the life of an airman during his first two years of the Second World War.

Many of the unpublished photographs are from the only Czechoslovakian squadron within RAF Bomber Command.

Complete biographies of all thirty-seven Allied observer students trained in the first air observer course run by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada.

One of the many wartime airmen who documented his day-to-day experiences in a diary was RCAF navigator John Gellner. Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Gellner was a lawyer practising in the Czechoslovak town of Brno. With the outbreak of war in Europe, he fled to Canada and trained as an air observer on the first course of the fledgling British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Gellner began his operational tour with No. 311 ‘Czechoslovak’ (B) Squadron flying the venerable Vickers Wellington. It did not take long for Gellner’s abilities to shine, especially as an instructor in astronavigation. For his role in the attack on the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, Gellner received the coveted DFC.

After thirty-seven operations over France and Germany, he was selected for pilot training in Canada. During his post-war service with the RCAF, he had a distinguished career as an administrative officer, retiring in 1958. Now a civilian, Gellner turned to writing and became one of Canada’s most knowledgeable and sought after aviation and military affairs journalists.

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 1781555095

978-1781555095
Format: Hardback, 256 pages

66 B&W photos + 2 B&W maps
Language: English
Published: May 2016
Price: £18.00




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Battle of Britain Memorial Day 2016, Capel-le-Ferne



National Battle of Britain Memorial
Capel-le-Ferne, Kent, CT18 7JJ.





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Two years ago today


On 17 June 2014, the Winged Lion Monument was unveiled at Klarov Park, Prague.

It is the only memorial in the world which remembers all

the 2,500 Czechoslovak men and women

who served in the RAF during WW2.

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The monument is located in Klárov, Prague 1, opposite the Malostranská metro station.




Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Anniversary, Ceremony, Memorial | 1 Comment

Josef Scerba Memorial plaque unveiling.


Odhalení pamětní desky Josefu Ščerbovi

V sobotu 4. června byla v Karviné odhalena pamětní deska Josefu Ščerbovi, příslušníkovi 311. československé bombardovací perutě RAF a členovi posádky letounu Wellington KX-B kapitána Aloise Šišky.

A memorial plaque dedicated to Josef Ščerba, former RAF 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron member and wireless operator of Alois Šiška’s Wellington KX-B crew, was unveiled in Karviná on June 4, 2016.

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Deska byla odhalena na budově restaurace, kde Josef Ščerba strávil své dětství a mládí (žil zde v letech 1918–1964) a která již téměř sto let nese jméno „Ščerba“, protože ji původně vlastnila jeho rodina. Restaurace nese toto jméno dodnes a stále je hojně navštěvována místními obyvateli.

The plaque can be seen on the building of a restaurant where Josef Ščerba spent his childhood and most of his adult years (between 1918 and 1964) and which bears the name “Ščerba´s” for almost one hundred years as the Ščerba family were originally the owners. The name has survived until today and the restaurant has continually been quite a well-known meeting place for local people.

Slavnostní odhalení zahájila dcera Josefa Ščerby Marta Chromá. Hlavní řeč pronesl Josef Kunz, člen sboru karvinských dobrovolných hasičů, se kterými Josef Ščerba v minulosti spolupracoval. Právě Josef Kunz inicioval návrh na udělení čestného občanství města Karviné Josefu Ščerbovi in memoriam, k němuž došlo v prosinci 2015. O hudební doprovod se postaral smíšený pěvecký sbor PZKO Stonava.

The ceremony was opened by Marta Chromá, Josef Ščerba’s daughter. The main speech was delivered by Mr. Josef Kunz, member of the voluntary Karviná fire-brigade, with whom Josef Ščerba had co-operated in previous years. Josef Kunz actually initiated the award of Karviná Honorary Citizenship to Josef Ščerba, granted in memoriam in December 2015. The PZKO choir provided musical accompaniment during the ceremony.

[Restaurace Ščerba se nachází na adrese Borovského 169/103, 734 01 Karviná-Ráj.]

[The Restaurant Ščerba is situated at Borovského 169/103, 734 01 Karviná-Ráj.]

© Martina Chromá




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